Sōtatsu: Making Waves

Nō Librettos by Kōetsu

Nō Librettos by KōetsuSince the early fifteenth century,  drama had been a powerful vehicle for the adaption and dissemination of ancient lore and literature. Aficionados of this theatrical form, including Kōetsu, circulated and studied librettos in manuscript form.

The printing technology used on these booklets can be seen on the mica-printed cover designs. The painted title labels (daisen) pasted on each cover are decorated with flowers and grasses in Sōtatsu’s unique, relaxed manner, with gold flecks sprinkled over their surfaces. The texts are inscribed in Kōetsu’s hand, reflecting his passionate dedication to this deeply influential dramatic form. The books displayed here are from a set of thirty-eight volumes formerly in the possession of Kamisaka Sekka (1866–1942), an artist of the Rinpa school.

Nō Librettos by Kōetsu
Tawaraya Sōtatsu (act. ca. 1600–40)
Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637), calligrapher
Japan, early 17th century
Printing with mica on paper
Ink, silver, and gold on paper
Tokyo University of the Arts

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